You meet Cecilia at the open bar behind the large red bookstore on Mango, as all young adult horror stories go. Simon motions her forward towards you with the front of his ‘baby bump’, as he jokingly calls it, against her back. “Late na pud ka! Ana biya ko seven-thirty,” Simon says as he pulls her to the high metal table you were all convened at together. Her hair sways from side to side at the light force, across the middle of her back like a broom. you wonder if the way it looks is a product of rebond or not. “Si kuan diay, guys, Celia,” says Simon with his chest, and you pray that the way his eyes travel from you to her then back at you aren’t a hint of some nefarious gay plan as he says, “Celia, si I—”
The strobe lights flashing all over the place are barely helpful like the surely-not-roofied drinks they serve, and the generic inspired-by-the-Chainsmokers-but-reloaded music they play that straight people eat up. At least you can see she has big wide eyes, framed by thick winged eyeliner and perfectly arched eyebrows, with her lips colored in a dark lipstick that changes color depending on the hue of the lights at the second—pink, blue, orange, pink, blue…
“Sorry! Traffic on the way here.” She smiles at you, clearly struggling to keep her teeth from showing by biting her lower lip down. “Hi,” she says, but doesn’t compete with the volume of the tin can music the way Simon does. If you could quantify the way she spoke, you’d say it was three-quarters air and one-quarter actual sound, but you digress. She isn’t a test subject for you to linguistically analyze. You grin back.
“Hi,” you say in response while stepping closer to the two of them. She really is pretty, that much is certain, but it’s the kind of pretty that mothers push to be on pageant stages or magazine covers. The kind of pretty that’s assumed to kiss boys and get picked up in their white mack trucks after class. The kind of pretty you are not sure what you feel about… Are you envious of her for being a boy kisser with a boyfriend who has a car, or are you harboring a taboo attraction for someone like her?
Simon pushes her forward again, stepping back a little so she is closer to you. She stumbles. You almost drop your beer as you hold your hands out to help her stay upright, looking down at her feet to see that they cannot be seen with the black maxi skirt that she is wearing. You hear a click as she tries to regain her balance; she’s in heeled boots. She’s probably in an art school by the way she is dressed. Typical fashion choices for two types of people: girls who are not interested in kissing boys, or someone with more than enough money to spare to enroll in Architecture. She’s probably both, with the gold moon necklace on her neck. You know for a fact that the senior high kids you teach in the arts track are also dressed like that, either aspiring to be in the same art school as she is, conforming to Tik Tok-prescribed fashion bible videos for girls who don’t kiss boys, or both. You know, as your students say, stan LOONA. (It’s not their business, but you agree.)
“Cecilia? Ka-banal ba,” you ask.
She raises a hand to tuck a lock of her hair behind her ear, revealing the wooden Santo Nino bracelet on her wrist. She nods. “Yeah, my parents are very devout.” Clearly.
“Ay, okay,” you answer anyway, “But I stan Clairo, though, so like,” you raise your brows, “I hope di na problema. Ampuan pa lang ko nimo,” you joke, but it’s important to spray the bug repellent before you get any closer, just in case they’re secretly a cockroach who likes the first word of that animal’s stupid name.
In response, she laughs raucously. She raises a hand up, waving it side to side in vehement denial. “Oh-em-gee, you like Clairo?!” She squeals, full of mirth. Did she really say ‘oh-em-gee’ out loud? “I stan girl in red baya! My parents fucking hate me!” She says, like it’s an achievement she’s proud of. “They kicked me out last year when I told them I had a girlfriend, sa apartment ko ni Simon nisleep.” Taysa, ka-conyo ba. Before you could comment on her speech patterns, Simon cuts in.
“Oh yeah, that happened.”
She’s not single? Then what’s the point of Simon introducing her to you? Does he think you need more gay friends? Because he, Valerie, Mia (and Seb, but you’re not allowed to admit that in front of Simon. conclusion: never fall in love with anyone in your friend group) are more than enough.
“Taga-CAFA diay ni si Celia.” Bingo. “Landscape archi, fifth year.” Ooh, double whammy, you think, as your eyes widen. Triple, actually. A girl-kissing archi major enrolled in CAFA? That’s a first for you, to manage to guess a person’s identity correctly in its entirety. Either people like you are getting more and more predictable, or you’re growing up along the same wall as your mother in all her tita-of-Cebu glory.
You take a swig. “Asa imo uyab?”
“Ay, wala na ko ana,” you can’t tell the face she’s making (spoke too soon about your people reading skill?) as she turns her body to the side and takes a swig of her own pink drink, side-eying you.
You don’t know why it feeds your ego, you’re not the confident butch type. If anything, you’re a straight-passing lipstick bisexual anxious little cretin. You can never keep eye contact with a pretty girl even if they paid you to, so you don’t. You tear your gaze away from her to look at Simon. “CAFA like our CAFA?”
“Ay,” you pretend to be upset at the knowledge, making a show of it by pouting. “Girls’ High ko.”
“Ay, okay ra! I have a car,” she says, her eyes curving into downward crescents as she smiles. You hear the implication of that, everyone and their grandmother does, as if that was a pickup line that would work on someone like you. The question is, why does she think you would care about her pet pollutant? You just said you listen to Clairo, not Sabrina Carpenter.
“Uh, okay? Ngano diay? Unsay naa sa car…?” You pretend to ask, glancing at each one of your friends as if you’re clueless as to what she’s trying to say. Mia is snickering behind her hand. “Ngano nikatawa ka?”
“Ibutang ta lang manhid ka.” Ah, so it’s working.
“Wa oy. Gipangita na ka sa imo papa, Val?” and with that, the subject is dropped.
Two hours later you find yourself in the Robinson’s in the basement of the Banilad Town Center with Valerie and her dad. While holding her hand to help her pretend to be sober as she helps him navigate the store for their middle-class grocery list, you think back to that conversation. Why do gay girls never say things with their entire chests when they’re supposed to have bigger ones compared to men’s?
Men really do have the audacity. They stole it from the girls who need it more and who know how to use it better.
“Why can’t I find you on Facebook, uy?” is the first thing she asks when you get into her car. Well, it’s not really a car, it’s the giant white mack truck you thought only the rich male girl-kissers could own and pick up girls in. Why the hell is she so cool? Next to you, Valerie laughs. You throw your books—her college books, really, the as-thick-as-the-holy-bible book binded photocopies of Edith Tiempo’s Silliman textbooks—on her lap.
You hold up a finger to put a pin on that conversation topic, opening your backpack to get your water bottle. “Taysa, wa biya koy tarong kaon kay ana mo alas kwatro.” You down the whole bottle. “Ana man gud mo panihapon, gamay ra akong gikaon. Gutom kaayo ko.”
“Chinese ako name,” you turn to Valerie, the Sacred-Hearter that she is, “aw Chinese ba? Cantonese? Basta name sa member sa LOONA nga taga Hong Kong ako gigamit.” You are about to explain that the reason why your name is impossible to type using an English keyboard is so that you can avoid students who don’t understand when you say ‘Don’t add me on Facebook!’ and abuse their friend rights by chatting you up in the middle of the night asking for personal consultations when Valerie laughs again. What is with Aries signs always laughing at everything a Sagittarius says? Could you maybe quit your job and become a comedian? You’re imagining breaking Vice Ganda’s career trajectory with your entry into Star Magic when you catch Cecilia’s eyes in the rear view mirror.
“You like K-pop diay?”
Simon, in the front seat, is not helping your case. “She dressed like an idol in college.” You can hear the eye roll in his voice. “Like, pleated skirts and everything. Silang duha ni Valerie.”
“Buang!” you hit the back of Simon’s seat as you turn red and Valerie tries to scream like a banshee to cover up Simon’s very truthful blasphemy, “Saba gud!”
But Cecilia only giggles. Outright fucking giggles, and you hate how that sound makes your stomach feel hollow and warm. “Hala, cute! Here o,” she pulls out her phone from out of nowhere—an iPhone 11! With a yellow back!?—opens it for you with that fancy ass face ID, opens her Facebook app and hands her phone to you. “You add me on Facebook, then you can go to Spotify and play your K-Pop. Connected na siya sa Bluetooth.”
You receive her phone carefully. What the hell, it has no casing? She really has money to throw away. “Ay, di ko. Basig mangstalk ka then makita ka sa akong idol past,” you reply, pouting as you keep eye contact with her with the rear view mirror.
She laughs again, this time a chuckle with a serene smile tacked on the end. “Sige, dili ko mangstalk. Promise.”
You lean back against the car seat quite aggressively. “Kita gani ko mulike ka ug picture older than twenty-nineteen, iblock tika.” You point a finger aggressively at her.
“Oo lagi,” she nods, still smiling. “Promise.”
You do as you are told by then: you type in your alternate English name on the Facebook search bar. Your fake Cantonese profile name appears in the results. You click the ‘add as friend’ button, exited the app to open the Spotify app (easily found on her dock; music lover?). “Stan LOONA,” you declare to the silence of the car before you press ‘play’.
It’s Heart Attack.
“That was too hyped,” you finally say after a very long moment of nothing but staring at the darkened computer screen in front of you. Simon turns to look at you, tilting his head downwards. You pout. “Bati-an ko.”
Cecilia lifts her head from the pillow she was laying face down on, on the floor and looks at you through her curtain of hair over her face. “Why man?” You don’t answer immediately, instead leaning back against the couch with your arms over your chest. Across the room, Ate Alex, who did not watch the movie, puffs out smoke from a juul. The room smells like candied apples.
“Generic ra kaayo. Like,” you shift your weight to tuck your left leg under your butt, “oh, gay girl has a straight best friend, they go to a bar and meet men, unya si gay girl aspiring screenwriter diay or producer and is inspired by her crush on her straight best friend so she makes a drama about it. Conyo pa jud kaayog script.”
“Bitaw no,” Mia trails off, nodding on the side, “ganahan jud kaayo na sila anang idea nga gay people always have a crush on their best friend, mao nang nakipag-best friend sila, unya gwapo kuno kaayo so nahimo silang sexual awakening pero ireject sila.”
You mime a gag.
“Even in a gay film, it’s about the straights,” says Valerie.
“Gani! Dinato pa jud, ka-bilat ba. Aspiring producer kuno siya. Sana all dato makaeskwela ug film. Way story diha para sa mga hampaslupa?”
Ate Alex, who had been silent the entire time the movie was playing in favor of finishing her work, speaks. “Mga dato ra daw pwede ma-bayot, Vy.”
“Unya kita diri nga middle ug low class, di pwede,” adds Mia.
Seb snorts from where he is sitting across Ate Alex. “Serious ra kaayo mo, ha.”
“Magbuot? They marketed this as a lesbian movie for the Filipino gays of our time, of course taas tag expectations nga, ‘hey, maybe I’ll see myself in this movie!’ Labi nag language major tang tanan diri. Unya tagaan tag generic, and they don’t even end up together! Kas oras uy.”
Cecilia gets up on the floor and forces herself in the very narrow space between you and Simon, putting a hand on your thigh, “calm down,” she says, with a serene smile.
“Di ko!” you yell. Cecilia startles. Oh no. You stick a laugh at the end and she responds with a toothy smile. Too toothy, the kind where even your bottom teeth show. Ah, shit, that’s the smile they always put on when you get too into whatever it is you are spieling about. “Joke. Pero ang ako lang ba, we never really get stuff that gives us a happy ending. It’s either they die at the end, they break up, or di jud sila magkadayon. Think about it,” you look at Valerie, but you shake your head barely a breath after, “joke, di ikaw. You’re like, a baby gay. Ikaw, Mia, think about it. Di jud sila magkadayon igka-ending.”
Mia tilts her head to the right, her irises staring upwards. You don’t know why that eye thing happens when people think, as a child you thought your eyes were trying to go up to your brain to read what you were thinking, but you know now as you are older that’s not true.
“Bitaw,” say Mia, “katong Blue is the Warmest–”
“Hoy, I hate Blue is the Warmest Color!” you cry out, “nice ang cinematography, pero ang scriptwriting ug pacing, way ayo. And they don’t end up together!”
“Dragging bitaw kaayo. Mura sad ug porn ako gitan-aw, daghan kaayog sex scenes. Laki man daw ang director ato, so another one of the–” Mia points at you with finger guns, “–straights making it about them.”
“Ay? Laki ang director sa Blue?”
“Mao diay murag porn, aron malingaw sad siya ug apil. Manyak, ka-atay. Maypang But I’m A Cheerleader, mas naa pay class, unya happy ending pa jud.”
“What’s Blue is the Warmest Color?” asks Cecilia in the way she does, you’ve noticed, when she’s unsure; her voice thin and wispy like bits of stuffed toy wadding floating away in the wind.
You look at her, expressionless. “Wa ka kahibaw? Blue is the Warmest Color?”
She shakes her head minutely, “no- I’m scared of you man oy, ” she laughs again, the countable laughs from the throat instead of the chest that people do when they don’t want to be rude. “You might be angry that I don’t know, ba.”
“Buang, hadlok man ka sa ako, kagamay nakong tawo,” you slap a hand on her thigh, “kuan, salida. French film about lesbians that came out in… twenty-thirteen ba to? Or twenty-twelve? Nakadaog ug Oscar. Basically nagka-uyab sila, then nagbuwag ra sad kay ambot. Unsay pasabot ana? Di nato deserve nga makakita ug happy ending?”
“Oy, pero ang Ari and Dante, happy ending baya to.” Simon says.
You are frozen in your seat upon hearing the title of that book. “Piskot, ang copy ni Leanne naa pa nako. Wa pa ko kabasa. Seb, di mo magkita ni Leanne?”
It’s when Jazz Bar by Dreamcatcher starts playing that you feel a tap on your shoulder from behind you. You turn around to see who it is at the same time you hear Valerie scream and suddenly become fluent in Korean as she sings along to the lyrics. It’s Cecilia, a package in her hand wrapped neatly in a blue Christmas wrapper and a gift ribbon on top.
“Late na pud.”
“Sorry! I went to SM. Sorry pod about the wrapper, I was too shy to tell the wrapping station na para birthday siya,” she explains with a sheepish toothy grin before holding out the package to you. “Happy birthday!”
Are you about to cry right now? You take the present from her then hit her on the top of her head with it, but gently. A gentle bonk. “Buang! Nihapit jud diay kag palit, ana ko ayaw.” Another bonk, this time against her shoulder. Why are your palms sweating? You’re such a loser. Gamers would call you a simp. Your grade twelve boys would be first in line if they saw you like this.
She smiles at you, and you see a dimple emerge from under the corner of her lips. A little face crater. You think of the moon. Maybe she is one. Suddenly you understand the overdone sapphic metaphor of comparing women to the moon.
Your train of thought is disrupted when Valerie sings along to the harmony, like the perfect pitch haver that she (probably) is. “I feel I love you!” she croons. “Oh, I love you. Oh, I like you.”
“Saba Val, bi!” you shout, “hubog na man guro na, Seb.”
Seb laughs and looks up from his phone from where he is seated next to the speaker. “Ako pahinayan, ako pahinayan.”
Valerie whines. “Noooo, stan Dreamcatcher!” she reaches for the speaker, and you stop looking at her to look back at Cecilia, who is smiling.
“Thank you. Nipalit jud ka. Ana biya ko ayaw.”
“Sige, next time, dili na ko mu-buy. Pero I saw it man gud at SM, and I thought of you.”
“Unsa diay ni? Puyde ablihan?”
“Sure, it’s yours. Happy birthday.”
You peel the ribbon off the wrapper and slap it on your forehead. While you try to find the best end of the wrapper to start tearing from, Cecilia laughs and takes the ribbon off your face. You tear the paper and come in contact with a familiar image.
“Ari and Dante.” An identical copy to the one you borrowed from Leanne.
“So you can read it in your own time and return your other copy to your friend. Di na ka mapressure mu-read, being a teacher is hard biya.”
Yawaaaaaaaaaaaa. “Thank you,” you say again, smiling as you read the reviews on the back of the book as if it contained new information, anything to avoid eye contact with her. You crumple the wrapping in your hand.
“Naa pa kay lain gift.”
You look up way too fast, you feel your brain jiggling inside your head. Your eyebrows get ready to get angry at her spending on you–one is too many, and another one!?–when you see the ribbon taped on the apple of her cheek.
You take the ribbon off her skin. “Buang,” and you kiss her.
‘Infested’ is a strong word, but when Cecilia said her parents were ‘devout’, you did not think it would mean their whole house was decorated with religious paraphernalia from floor to ceiling, from front door to back. Statues of saints one after the other line the walls with rosaries draped on each of their clasped hands. Pictures of Jesus, mother Mary, and prayer booklets are in the crevices between the mirrors and its frames. A holographic reprint of the last supper by Leonardo da Vinci hangs by the wall of their dining room over a gigantic wooden spoon and fork. Even the screen door in the front of the house is adorned with three dried sprigs of palm leaves inserted in between the grills. You’re not sure if it’s roaches or goosebumps crawling your skin when you follow her inside.
You’re pretty sure you didn’t say anything, but she seems to have heard your thoughts anyway. “I told you it was infested,” she says off-handedly, laughter bubbling out of her mouth. She takes off her shoes. You follow suit. You’re liberated, not American.
It’s almost as if God knew someone He gifted with the pristine beauty of an angel was going to be laced with some form of sin and fortified her home with saints to make sure she was exorcised of her demons every sunday; washed her mind, soul, and fingers clean of the… unspeakable things she had done in the choir loft of that same church two hours after the last mass with a girl from the choir… or so she told you. So Montero. The song starts playing in your head from the post-chorus.
“Di man gud,” you try to reason, but it’s difficult to wipe that amused look off your face, “ang infested, matabang ug Baygon. Di man guro ma-Baygon ang simbahan.”
“Bujikins?” You startle. That’s clearly an older woman’s voice.
“Ma?” Cecilia shouts back, her voice lilting upwards, walking towards where the voice was coming from, further into the house. You stay stationary by the door. She turns around to beckon you along with her. “I have a friend over!” You two enter the kitchen and see a silver-haired woman fluttering about doing kitchen things. She turns around.
You see where Cecilia’s looks come from.
Her mother is the spitting image of the girl whose fingers are pinching the back of your wrist like an ant biting your skin: large eyes with long lashes, clean well-groomed brows accentuated with brown pencil behind the hairs, well-kept silver hair ending in lazy curls at the end. You wonder why she’s advanced in her years when her daughter is your age. You’re pretty sure your mother isn’t so mature like she is.
You open your mouth to greet her but she already levels you with a stone-cold stare. “She’d better be just a friend, ha.”
Cecilia rolls her eyes. “Yes, ma, friend lang,” she answers, but she pokes a covert finger against the side of your stomach. You struggle not to react, you’re terribly ticklish. “You know, my thesis requires a linguist.”
“Sure ba yan?” Her mother says again, but her eyes are not anywhere else but yours.
Cecilia rolls her eyes again, “Yes, ma,” she repeats, “We’re going upstairs na.”
“Okay, bujikins. Leave the door open.”
Cecilia does not answer that, instead turning around to lead you up the stairs to her room. She closes the door behind you.
You don’t expect the end to come the way it did, and yet, you knew it was coming. It was in the small things, the big things, things that recur the way patterns do in nature, the things that haunt you, like Cecilia arriving two hours later than agreed upon, the way she always does.
You get in the passenger seat of her truck. “Dugaya nimo oy, alas dos atong sabot. Hapit na alas singko.”
“I’m sorry! I had a meeting and it ran late.”
“Meeting?” You furrow your brows together, “unsay meeting?”
Cecilia pulls out of the parking spot. “Sa akong thesis, my adviser was explaining her points for revision so I can start revising before I can defend. I thought it would be quick ra, but gi-ask pud ko if I could represent CAFA sa Miss Intrams.”
Intrams? You swallow a ball of spit sticking to the bottom of your throat. “Dayon?”
“I told them I would think about it pa kay I’m graduating, and there are practices pa. Pero dili ko nila i-let go if di ko mu-yes.” Is she smiling?
You are not sure why this conversation irritates you so much, but you do at the same time. Is it envy or jealousy that wraps around your arms the same way the plants that bear your exact name climb up the walls of old European buildings, tightening and tightening with every question you ask her? “Dayon?” You can never tell the difference, but you just know you want to wrap her within the same vines you are in, to never let her out.
“I told them I’d talk to my mom,” she answers innocently, oblivious to the seething in between your teeth. The car is stuck in a bumper-to-bumper outside the back gate of the campus. “Then to tell me so I can decide. Then I called my mom after.”
“Dayon?” Don’t you have anything else to say?
“Okay ra daw. She likes it when I go to pageants, she thinks it will ‘straighten’ me out.”
The traffic moves barely an inch forward. She finally steals a glance at you. “Are you okay? Murag nasuko lagi ka.” She averts her gaze back to the road.
You shake your head. “Gigutom ra ko.”
“We will eat! I’m sorry I’m late.”
Her phone pings. She picks it up from the cup holder in front of the gear stick. You don’t bother to conceal your apprehension anymore. “Kinsa na?”
“Daghanag pangutana, uy. She’s asking me where I am na, she knows I’m going out today.”
“Kahibaw siya ako imong kuyog?”
“Wala. Ngano man?”
Another vine crawls up to you, taking hold of your throat. You don’t want to ask, you’d die if you do, and you’d die if you don’t. “What did you tell her?”
The car moves forward again. A little more than you can turn right to Vicente Sotto. “She just asked where I was going and I told her I was going to Bada with some friends. Then she told me not to drink because I was driving. Mao ra to.”
You stay silent for a while. A long while. The car turns right. In the distance, you see Robinson’s turning on their lights. You keep trudging along. It’s by the gate of Vicente Sotto she makes an effort.
“Ngano ka uy? Are you okay?”
“Di pa jud ka musulti sa imong mama about nako?”
“Huh?” she laughs. Why is she laughing? “Ngano diay? Unsa’y akong isulti niya?”
Call you the Little Teapot because you are simmering now. “What do you mean by that?”
“What do you mean ‘what do you mean’? She knows we’re friends.”
Friends? “Friends?” Friends. “Friends. We— we’re friends.” You pick up your backpack from the floor of the car, slinging it by the strap to put it on your back. You lean towards the door and open the lock.
“I-drop ko sa Robinson’s.”
“Wh— Ngano ka uy? What’s wrong with you?”
“Friends!” you shriek, aggressively twisting your body to at least grace her with the redness of your face, “friends? Giatay ka?”
She says nothing.
“Pag birthday nako—” you start, but you cut that sentence off immediately in favor of huffing a deep breath. “Ambot nimo oy. I-drop ko’s Robinsons.”
“Ha? I thought we were going—”
“Di na ko, Cil!” your eyes start to sting, you feel a tennis ball inside your windpipe that has you gasping for air. “Friends ra ta? Piste ka? You won’t even tell your mom about me?”
The distress is clear in Cecilia’s face, and you realize that in a car in heavy traffic is not the best place to have this conversation. “Huh? I—” she’s torn between staring at the road and looking at you. “Ngano ka? You know I don’t have that privilege!”
“So unsa man, imo ko pabalikon sa closet? Kay murag ingon ana ang imong gusto sa ako.”
“No, it’s not—”
“Then unsa? If di ka mu-come out sa imong parents, fine, I will wait for you until you are ready to do that. But you can’t ask me to go backwards and pretend we’re friends kung di ko nimo i-assure nga waiting is worth it.”
You open the car door. “Ayaw ko’g kabuangi, Cil. Dako na ta. Wa tay angay mag-ingon ana.”
The way But I’m A Cheerleader ends goes like this: Megan, who had run away from the conversion therapy camp with some other camp friends, comes back to the camp to save her girlfriend Graham. They drive a black truck into the campsite and Megan interrupts the graduation by doing a little dance routine in her high school cheerleading outfit and pom-poms for Graham as an apology and proof of her love. This is what straight people call ‘the grand gesture’.
You wish that is how it played out for you.
Instead, it ends the way Blue is the Warmest Color begins: it’s Pride Day in Cebu City. You’re on your way to the crowded Fuente Osmena Circle, about to cross the street from where you stand across the street, right outside Casino Filipino. You look both ways before you step out, lest this is the day angry 04H jeepneys decide is your last. As you speedwalk your way through the open road, you catch sight of a girl on the other side: familiar stature, clad in a black maxi skirt, a tight long sleeved black top, her buckled black boots clacking against the pavement. You’re pretty sure she’s strutting, as she should. In her hand, she brandishes a small pride flag. A few similarly-dressed people follow from behind her. You assume they are her friends; you’ve never met them. You want to wonder why, but why does it matter to you now, after the fact?
You think of that last conversation in the car like the person with anxiety that you are. (Shame.) You think of the ways it could have gone over better. (Way better. Way, way, way better.) You think if you reacted correctly. (You didn’t. You were a child about it the most similar but different way she was.) You think if she had her reasons. (She did, and they were valid.) You think if you had reasons, too. (You did.) You think if you were meant to be. (“You’re in different time cycles of your life,” Seb said, “working adult na ka. You don’t need to tell your parents anything, and as long as you graduated with honors they didn’t care who you kissed. Lahi biya sa iyaha. You’re demanding an adult’s commitment and security from a student whose time cycle is reliant on school and her parents. Wa ka nalugar ato kay she doesn’t have your freedoms, pero sayop sad niya nga iya kang gipa-asa.”) You think if you deserve her. (You wish you did.) You think if you loved her. (You were well on your way.)
A girl runs up to her, putting an arm around her shoulder. There’s a burning feeling in your chest, but you smile to yourself because you are Adèle: your eyes are drawn to her, as it always will. You think you will always find her in a crowd, wherever that crowd may be. You cross paths, and her name is on the tip of your tongue, but you find yourself unable to find the strength to say it. Her hair still sways from side to side. You could do a sharp turn and chase after her. You could send her a message on Messenger. You could text her.
An excited squeal erupts from the Circle. Valerie is waving avidly at you, her wild pink hair flying in the wind. “Ivy!”
You decide you won’t.
 references the song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” by Lil Nas X.
This literary piece is part of Katitikan Issue 4: Queer Writing.